But Philadelphia did not quit this time. Dr. J kept operating and the Blazer advantage diminished from 102-90 to 102-98 with 4:14 left. Lucas' two free throws gave Portland a 108-100 lead, but there was still time and here came the 76ers again.
Lloyd Free's foul shot and Erving's 20-footer got them to within five points. Two foul shots by Erving, and they were within three. Lucas made another free throw and Walton blocked another Philly shot, but McGinnis hit a jumper and the 76ers were just two points down with 18 seconds left.
"The end of the game was a total blank," Twardzik recalled. What he missed was McGinnis tying up Gross and winning the resulting jump so that Philly got three more shots to at least tie the contest. "It would have been our game," said Erving.
But with eight seconds remaining, the Doctor shot from straightaway behind the foul line and missed. ("As a rebounder and defender I assume everybody's going to miss," said Walton.)
With five seconds to go, Free shot from the baseline, but he was sandwiched between Hollins and Gross. His shot didn't go in either and Gross knocked the ball out of bounds.
With one second left, McGinnis, driving to the right, pushed up one final funny shotput jumper, but this one bounced off also. After Walton leaped to knock the ball away and secure the NBA championship for Portland, he whirled, ripped off his shirt and heaved it in the general direction of where he'd been swatting the Sixers' shots for a whole week: right into the heart of Blazermania.
"If I had caught the shirt, I would have eaten it," said Lucas. "Bill's my hero."
Not to mention the hero of everyone who has ever set foot on the Oregon Trail. "Did I plan the shirt?" Walton laughed at the question as people tried to shower his red hair and beard with champagne, beer and other wicked libations. "I only planned on winning," he said.
"Dr. J is incredibly tough," he added, "but we are not into stardom here. The 76ers played with their guts and their pride today and they didn't try to star. That's why both teams played close. But once we learn how to beat a team, we can do it and keep doing it."
Then Walton asked, "Where's my fruit juice?"